Audio: Strong Momentum for U.S. Beef, Pork Exports to South Korea

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In a very solid first quarter for U.S. beef and pork exports, South Korea stood out as a market in which demand for both products has gained strong momentum. Beef exports to Korea were up 23 percent year-over-year to 42,551 metric tons (mt), with value increasing 30 percent to $267.5 million. First-quarter pork exports totaled 51,158 mt (up 31 percent) valued at $137 million (up 39 percent).

Joel Haggard, USMEF senior vice president for the Asia-Pacific, was recently in Korea for a customer appreciation event. He notes that U.S. beef now enjoys widespread consumer acceptance in Korea, which is a major change from the sentiment that prevailed in 2008, when U.S. beef returned to the market following a BSE-related closure.

Haggard says demand for U.S. pork raw materials has increased this year among Korean meat processors, and U.S. processed pork products have also gained traction in the market. This is due in part to the duty-free status secured for most U.S. pork products through the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), which took effect in 2012.


Joe Schuele: In a strong first quarter for U.S. meat exports, one of the markets that stood out the most was South Korea. Joel Haggard, U.S. Meat Export Federation senior vice president for the Asia Pacific is based in Hong Kong but just returned from a large customer appreciation event in Korea. Haggard has more details in this USMEF report.

Joel Haggard: We decided to do the event this year because we’ve had just incredible momentum on sales and uptake on U.S. beef. It’s on everyone’s lips again, everyone wants to import, distribute and sell U.S. beef. There’s almost not consumer apprehension about its safety and quality, and we just continue to work at this. We ran a couple of different large-scale consumer campaigns, starting with the “To Trust” campaign. We graduated to one that started to talk less about safety and more about quality. And it really hit what we call the tipping point about 18 months ago, so we just got a chance to thank all of these customers who stuck with us all these years.

Joe Schuele: Pork exports to Korea area also up this year, both raw materials and processed product, thanks in part to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

Joel Haggard: The big processors in Korea are incredible raw material sourcers. They know the prices any given day, and they told us the U.S. was far more price-competitive this year compared to European product than last year. That’s showing up in our sales, as well, so we have momentum there. Processed meat is doing well – here’s an example of the free trade agreement helping us out. The course of the free trade agreement brought the processed meat duties down to zero. They’re at zero now so we’re seeing a number of brands see their sales go up, plus we’re seeing new brands enter the marketplace. So it’s looking very positive and we’re getting some interest by some potentially large accounts, like convenience stores.

Joe Schuele: For more information, please visit For the U.S. Meat Export Federation, I’m Joe Schuele.